September 1, 2014 by JImbo
While I disagree with the whole “Empire Zone” (E.Z.) idea as one of the worse ways to truly develop poor areas of New York State, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. Many economists insist we would be better off just cutting taxes across the board for everyone in the State.
However, people have bought into this whole “government can fix anything” fallacy. We’re stuck with it.
Then again, even the most ardent supporter should be able to see with a minimum of research that most of the “Empire Zones” (“E.Z.”s) are in areas where the people aren’t exactly POOR.
Take the town of Ontario for example. The average household income is $56,000/year. The definition of “poor” according to Federal guidelines is $23,000/year for a family of four. In fact, Ontario is right at the average for the whole state, and that includes New York City! Combined with the lower cost of living Upstate, folks living in Ontario are actually pretty well off.
That’s not even the worst offender. Some of them downstate are well over triple and quadruple what “poor” is and could qualify as “upper middle class” if now moderately “rich.”
Why all these “tax free zones” in rich areas, while neighborhoods like “The Crescent” in Rochester remain poor and crime ridden? Isn’t that why we HAVE that program? To help the poor, undeveloped areas out?
Maybe poor people just can’t afford to bribe politicians and pay for lobbyists. Don’t expect it to change soon. The latest “winners” for Empire Zones were the State University towns… among the highest income areas in the state!
Can we at least PRETEND this isn’t just a kickback program for greedy lobbyists and corrupt politicians? It wouldn’t take much. Just amend the bill creating these EZs to say something about not putting them in “rich” areas. Something as simple as “No Empire Zone shall be established in a zip code where the average household income exceeds the Federal poverty guidelines for the previous year.”